Celebrities are without a doubt powerful - but brands no longer solely relying on big names to play in the big leagues with average-joes proving to be just as effective, in some situations, as a route towards reaching and engaging the masses.

As far as we can look back leading brands have been unleashing the power of celebrities and well-known figures to endorse their products and establish a loyal customer following. Over a 100 years ago tobacco companies were shelling out millions for Hollywood stars to promote specific brands of cigarettes and soon afterwards large corporations followed suit due to their massive impact on attracting consumer attention.

The rationale for leveraging a celebrity was quite straightforward in that products would become more desirable and sell, and overall, return on investments were proving positive results. But it wasn’t just about putting a well-known face in a campaign to increase sales, it is about more than that with some of the most globally-recognised brands partnering with heros amongst their target audience to build a strong identity and personality for the brand. These are the three key points business owners still to this day consider when appointing a representative:

Consumer appeal: when intertwining a recognisable face in a brand some businesses lean towards a sports star, a musician or a television/ radio host, whereas others prefer to enter a partnership with a politician, public activist, philanthropist or so on. In-depth market research into target audiences helps align certain aspects like physical appearance, intellectual capabilities, athletic competence, and lifestyle to ensure the endorser appears attractive to prospective buyers in the cluttered market and has a greater chance of making the brand more memorable.

Trustworthiness: credibility needs to be considered for any successful brand-celebrity collaboration to be successful. With the celebrity carrying a brand of their own, it is important that its reputation is perceived in a favourable way and has the ability to influence consumers. Having the known figure behind the brand makes their offering appear relevant and modern, whilst adding an element to familiarity. Through establishing an indirect relationship with the brand, consumers are more likely to trust their product and choose it when making buying decisions.

Compatibility: celebrities undoubtedly have the ability to spark brand awareness, amplify a message and reach new consumer groups. When deciding who is the right voice for a brand it is important to enter into a partnership with an icon that is not only popular but is a right fit in terms of lifestyle, personality, position in the market and goals. Appointing a person to endorse a brand can be a powerhouse tool to unleash new opportunities, but it can also be risky with the potential of their negative publicity impacting the brand’s credibility.

With the rise of various forms of online communication platforms, people are self-producing to reveal their talents and establish and following bases that shares their passion. Bloggers, podcasters, and other social media icons create regular multimedia content that resonates within their engaged community.

Brands are increasingly tapping into these influencers and loosening the reins on their narrative to communicate their message to niche audiences in a more authentic way in an effort to build genuine connections. A great example of this Zoe 'Zoella' Sugg, one of YouTube’s most-followed stars with 12 million subscribers and counting. As a beauty fanatic from Brighton, she became famous from posting vblogs of cosmetic purchases that often favour department store brands over designers, much to the delight of her younger following base. Zoella entered into a partnership with Super Drug and subsequently launched an exclusive product line which has helped the corporation capture a broader market, particularly amongst teenage girls, and subsequently broke internal sales records by significantly boosting both online and in-store sales.

More and more businesses are turning to influencers as an integral part of their marketing strategy, especially brands that are aiming to appeal to 18-35 year olds - and for good reason. In a Google report, 70% of YouTube subscribers say that self-creators shape change and culture even more so than traditional celebrities. The reasoning behind this is the influencer’s relatable personalities and constant interaction with supporters spark communities that look more like a friendship than a fanship and therefore, members of their network are more likely to follow their advice on what to buy.

With the present-day social movement, the relationship between companies and customers are evolving from master and servant, to peer-to-peer. Social media is empowering all types of brands to expand their reach and gain credibility and there are so many ways to leverage this marketing tactic. ASOS, for example, unleashes the power of Instagram’s micro-influencers, profiles with 500-10,000 flowers, to attract a buy-in from stylish millennials eager to share their latest fashion. Having their target audience entwined in the brand makes them feel valued and enables their followers to see the product in a real-world context, replicate their look and shop directly from their connection’s profile.

That’s not to say these larger brands stir away from celebrities altogether, there is certainly a place for them in their integrated marketing plans. Take Adidas for instance - the same year they announced a long-term partnership with Kanye West, they also recruited a team of 25 female influencers aiming to double their share of the women's market by 2020. Marketing plans need to be dynamic and objective-driven with tactics and messages shaped and communicated to target groups individually and authentically.

Whether a brand handles influencer relationships internally or works with a digital marketing agency for creative strategy, all tactics should run fluidly together and relay the brand’s tone of voice and message in the most comprehensive, commercially-driven and sustainable way possible.